Rising from the ashes: Zachary’s Jewelers 10 years after the fire

| November 25, 2015 | 1 Comment

10 years ago right now.

It was Friday night, November 25th in 2005 and it was a normal night until it wasn’t.  Shortly before 8pm as the staff at Zachary’s Jewelers were preparing to close for the night on a busy Black Friday, an odor of smoke was noticed. Steve Samaras, the owner of Zachary’s was out with his extended family at a local restaurant when his cell phone rang – it was one of his employees who said he needed to return immediately.

Samaras sped to the store to be greeted by hundreds of people lining a smoke-filled Main Street, watching the growing conflagration.

From across the street, he watched for the next six hours as his store was incinerated in a five-alarm blaze. The fire had begun in a faulty junction box, and as it escalated, the choice was made to sacrifice the Zachary’s Jewelers building in order to save the neighboring historical buildings.

Three buildings were damaged in the fire and the center one was condemned. AL Goodies and The Candy Factory (now Tervis) and Main Street Ice Crean (now Kilwins) bookended Zachary’s Jewelers which was destroyed. At the time, then-Mayor Ellen Moyer vowed to rebuild swiftly. “We want to move quickly to have this done,” Moyer said. “We don’t want a wall to hold us up for eight years.” The vacant lot that used to house Zachary’s is still a vacant lot a decade later.

The community rallied behind this local business. Competitors offered to loan them space. The local bank provided a vault to store the jewelry. But the biggest gift was Samaras’ landlord, Harvey Blonder. Blonder had a souvenir shot at the foot of Main Street (under Buddy’s Crabs and Ribs) and offered to close the shop and rent the space to Samaras.

All images © 2005 The Capital Gazette (Used with permission from Zachary’s)

Employees came together, and one week after the fire, Zachary’s has reopened in the new location.

On Saturday, December 3, Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer was on hand to assist Samaras in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Zachary’s Jewelers. About 400 people filled the store for the client holiday party.  In just three days after re-opening, Zachary’s made up for the loss incurred over the seven days closed. “Our holiday season was almost double the best we ever had,” says Samaras at the time, and noted that the walk-by traffic was triple what they had before.

Many customers came out to support the store in its time of need. Many said they weren’t planning to buy jewelry but felt it was the right thing to do.

Steve Samaras and Zachary’s Jewelers has always been an ideal corporate citizen. They feed parking meters for visitors who overstayed their parking time. Samaras has served on many Boards and currently is the President of the new Annapolis Partnership. According to Samaras, this is all about giving back. What you give, you get back.

And now, ten years later, the business is as strong as ever and growing. They have expanded to a second location in Severna Park and host many events each month. Coming up later this year, they will present a sampling of the Nutcracker ballet while the City illuminates their tree.

But right now, Zachary’s is thankful for many blessings and the support of the hometown community. In remembrance of the fire, this year’s holiday windows will be something special. Zachary’s Jewelers will be adorning the window displays with notes of thanks. While Samaras has plenty to be thankful for from the fire, his staff, customers, and public are encouraged to contribute their thanks as well. Stop in. Give thanks!

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About the Author ()

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news--and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009. John's background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.